Top 5 most expensive flops in Manchester United history

Sanchez was unveiled to much fanfare
Sanchez was unveiled to much fanfare
Elvis Ume O

Manchester United are the most successful club in English football history, and most of that success is traceable to the legendary management of the iconic Sir Alex Ferguson.

Given the Red Devils' immense success, it should come as no surprise that they are also one of the most popular clubs in the world, with global fandom running into hundreds of millions across all languages and nooks and crannies of the world.

Increased followership leads to increased marketability, and this concordantly leads to more financial stability, with the result of Manchester United's success on the field being that they are also one of the most prosperous clubs off it.

Over the years, their accomplishments have been made possible by the blooding of young academy players such as David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes but to name a few, and these men all transcended the heights to achieve legendary status at Old Trafford.

There have also been players who were bought for next to nothing such as Eric Cantona, Patrice Evra and Edwin van der Sar who all contributed their quota in maintaining the United legacy.

Big money has also been spent over the years to bring in players, and while some of those such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney went on to achieve greatness, it has not always been plain sailing for all the big money arrivals at Old Trafford.

In this piece, we shall be highlighting the top five most expensive flops in the history of Manchester United.

Honorable mentions: Fred (£52), Memphis Depay (£25m)

#5 Morgan Schneiderlin - 2015 (£25m)

Schneiderlin is a forgotten man at Old Trafford
Schneiderlin is a forgotten man at Old Trafford

It is highly likely that a lot of people have forgotten that Morgan Schneiderlin was once a Manchester United player even though he spent two years at Old Trafford and departed just two seasons ago.

However, such people can be forgiven, for the Frenchman's time at the club was truly atrocious.

After impressing for seven seasons with Southampton, Schneiderlin was signed by then Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal, and fans of the club saw him as the long-sought-after replacement for the iconic Paul Scholes in the middle of the park.

Mentioning both names in the same bracket is however a great disservice to the former England international, as Schneiderlin did not do anywhere near enough to merit comparisons.

He started life well at Old Trafford, scoring on his unofficial debut in a friendly against Club America in Seattle and he ended up making 29 league appearances in his debut season, but that was as good as it got.

The former Strasbourg man faced plenty of criticisms for his displays in a disastrous individual season, and in his sophomore campaign found playing time hard to come by, making just eight appearances for a total of 238 minutes in the first half of the 2016/2017 season before being sold to Everton in January 2017 less than 18 months after arriving.

#4 Henrikh Mkhitaryan - 2016 (£30m)

Huddersfield Town v Manchester United - Premier League
Huddersfield Town v Manchester United - Premier League

While it might be hard to imagine at the moment, prior to arriving Manchester United, Henrikh Mkhitaryan had been one of the most in-demand players in all of Europe.

The Armenian international had distinguished himself as the creative hub of an exciting Borussia Dortmund side, and back then had his pick of suitors, but eventually settled for Manchester United in the summer, arriving England for the sum of £30m.

While he shone on occasions, Mkhi was widely inconsistent, and soon found starts hard to come by, as Jose Mourinho froze him out of the first-team picture.

There were some high points in his United career, such as the 'scorpion kick' goal against Sunderland in the Premier League, but overall, Henrikh Mkhitaryan did not do too much during his time at the Theater of Dreams.

He was sold to Arsenal in January 2018 as part of a swap deal that saw Alexis Sanchez go the other way, and his time in London has produced mixed results.

#3 Juan Sebastian Veron - 2001 (£28.1m)

Juan Sebastian Veron was poor at Manchester United
Juan Sebastian Veron was poor at Manchester United

During his heyday, Juan Sebastian Veron was widely regarded as one of the best players of his generation, and only a handful could claim to be as talented as the La Plata native.

After leaving his native Argentina, Veron arrived in Europe, Italy to be precise, turning out for a number of clubs including Sampdoria and Parma, but it was in two seasons at Lazio that he truly catapulted himself to global attention.

It was for his displays with the Biancocelesti that Sir Alex Ferguson sanctioned Veron's purchase in the summer of 2001 for the sum of £28.1m.

That figure made him not just the most expensive Manchester United player in history at that time, but also the costliest transfer in British football history.

His first season with the club started well, and he scored three goals in United's first four league matches, but it progressively got worse for the former Argentine international, as he struggled immensely to get to grips with the faster pace of the Premier League where he was afforded less time and space on the ball.

His second season did not fare much better, although he performed creditably in the Champions League where the slower tempo of matches enabled him to dictate proceedings before a serious injury hampered his progress.

Veron was sold to Chelsea in the summer of 2003 for the sum of £15m and his time in London is not one he would look back on fondly either.

#2 Angel Di Maria - 2014 (£59.7m)

Di Maria did not continue the legacy of the number 7 jersey
Di Maria did not continue the legacy of the number 7 jersey

It is hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong with Angel Di Maria at Manchester United.

The Argentine international had arrived Old Trafford from Real Madrid in a mega-deal which saw him become the most expensive Premier League signing at that point of time, and he came in with a rock-solid reputation as one of the best wingers in the world, having just inspired Real Madrid to the long-elusive La Decima.

Upon arriving, Di Maria inherited the famed number 7 jersey, but unlike illustrious names who have worn it in the past like Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, Eric Cantona, and George Best, he did not do justice to the shirt's legacy.

It started well enough for Di Maria, and he scored a spectacular solo goal in a 5-3 defeat to Leicester City, but things soon unraveled for him after he sustained a hamstring injury.

Things got progressively worse for him in a United jersey, with the nadir coming when he was sent off in an FA Cup defeat to Arsenal for diving and grabbing the shirt of referee Michael Oliver.

Angel Di Maria was sold to PSG for the sum of €50m, and the fact that he has gone on to shine with the Parisians only serves to further mystify his struggles at Old Trafford.

#1 Alexis Sanchez - 2018 (£30m)

Sanchez has been offloaded to Inter Milan
Sanchez has been offloaded to Inter Milan

Though the value of Alexis Sanchez' purchase from Arsenal was given as £30m, the Mancunians actually did not spend a dime, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan went in the other direction as already touched upon.

Judging by this alone, it makes no sense for the Chilean international to be on this list, but a breakdown of his remuneration package would highlight just how expensive Sanchez was to Manchester United.

In a bid to price him away from city rivals Manchester City, United offered Sanchez a bumper contract, making him the highest-paid player in Premier League history with baseline wages of £390,000 per week, as well as a £75,000 appearances fee.

Those are enormous numbers even by United's standards, but the outlay would have been justified if Sanchez was pulling his weight on the field.

However, that proved to not be the case, as the 30-year-old was nothing but a shadow of the menace who terrorized opposition defenses in the colors of Arsenal and scored just five goals in 45 appearances for Manchester United in all competitions.

His 18-month Old Trafford nightmare was ended when he completed a loan transfer to Inter Milan, but as a pointer to how low his stock has fallen, the Italians did not include an obligation to buy, while Manchester United would still be offsetting a considerable chunk of his tremendous salary.

Alexis Sanchez had arrived in a very publicized manner and was welcomed with open arms, but 18 months on from his piano playing unveiling, it is hard to imagine that there would be any United fan who was not glad to see the back of him.

Edited by Kaushik Das


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